Celeste (PC/PS4/XONE/Switch/Stadia): A Steep, Treacherous, and Beautiful Climb (Detailed Review)

Celeste | Chapter 9 opening

And here we have yet another overdue review that I have been planning to get for quite some time. Specifically, this review was requested by former patron Winter. While they have since canceled their pledge due to financial difficulties, they were the first patron of mine to meet the current requirements for a review request, which require someone to be a patron for more than six months and contribute at least $120 total. Yes, this is a steep requirement, but it also ensures that those who are supporting me are doing so because they either really care about me or my content. Also I have tendency to take a long time getting to requested reviews, but I do plan to honor these commitments even when a patron in question is also an abusive ex (no, that’s not Winter, but that is the case with another patron).

As for what my excuse for taking so long this time is, it’s that I had initially tried to play the Steam version of Celeste several months ago (which Winter also gifted me because they are a total sweetheart), but I had some issues with the controls that made the game virtually unplayable to me. Specifically, I had this problem where, when using a PS3 controller, the game would just stop reading my button inputs for a second every other minute. While 1 second doesn’t sound like much, Celeste IS a platformer that requires split second timing and accuracy.

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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4/XONE/Switch/PC): A Highly N. Tertaining Trilogy (Detailed Review)

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy | Crash 2 Tiny fight

I can safely say that, prior to 2017, I assumed the Crash Bandicoot series was as good as dead. Despite not having been relevant since the PS1 era, it was able to stay barely afloat until 2010, with the last console based installment being Crash: Mind Over Mutant. Despite the fact that I haven’t talked about it much, I have played the crap out of the PS1 games (2 and 3 at least) when I was a child, but I hadn’t touched them in so long that the remakes were basically a new experience for me. Not to mention that I had never even played the original game.

Crash Bandicoot was one of the biggest names during the PS1 era, yet when it fell off, it didn’t even fall off in the same way as Sonic the Hedgehog where every installment still got a lot of hype and sold a lot even though the games were hit and miss. It’s more so along the lines of people just stopped paying attention to the series, so we wouldn’t even know if any of the post PS1 releases were any good. I mean, I did enjoy Crash Nitro Kart, and I heard Crash Twinsanity was pretty fun, but the other two post PS1 Crash games I played were Tag Team Racing and Crash of the Titans, both of which sucked. Crash of the Titans was especially moronic in that it turned a platformer series into a beat em up so boring that it makes Sonic Unleashed’s night time stages look like they ACTUALLY came from God of War.

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Games&Girls (PC): An Embarrassing Train Wreck (Detailed Review)

CW: Mentions of Nazism, pedophilia, incest, antisemitism, and kidnapping

It seems as if the games I play are constantly trying to push the envelope for different ways to be absolutely fucking awful. I am at the point where if someone asked me the worst game I ever played, I’d ask what criteria they are basing them on. I could go with the game that was so disgusting and scarring that it made me suicidal, I could go with the no-budget “experimental” game that included real life gore in it, I could go with the RPG Maker game with no battles, levels, dialogue, or ending, or I could go with the game that required you to manually rename the game’s exe file to even play it.

Games&Girls is now among those games as “the visual novel that I almost didn’t review because I didn’t think I could review it without insulting the developer.” And even approaching this review is difficult because I’m not sure if I should do what I usually do and start describing the story, writing, presentation, or open with the fact that the 4th episode has you trying to seduce a fucking Nazi?

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Secret Little Haven (PC): A Deeply Personal Masterpiece (Detailed Review) #TransDayofRemembrance

Secret Little Haven | Logo

CW: Transphobia, parental abuse, gaslighting, depression, violence, and suicide.

So here we are at another Trans Day of Rememberence, the day where cis people can bitch about trans social justice warriors and bathrooms while trans people mourn their friends and family who were murdered by cis people, or who killed themselves because cis people felt inconvenienced by their desire to, you know, live.

I’ve used Trans Day of Rememberence as a framing device for my work in the past. Two years ago, I used it for a highly emotional piece where I let my anger and disgust front and center. This time, I’m going to do something a bit different. It just so happened that the next game on my schedule for a review is also very much relevant to Trans Day of Rememberance. Not only is Secret Little Haven made by a trans developer, but it is also a trans centered title with a lot of highly relevant subject matter. It’s also an absolute masterpiece that comes strongly recommended even if you aren’t trans.

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MOTHER 3 (GBA): A Genuine Classic (Detailed Review)

MOTHER 3 | Chapter 6

I really should have played this game a lot sooner than I did. I’ve commonly listed EarthBound as one of, if not my favorite games of all time. It’s hard to believe that my review of EarthBound was only the 2nd review I ever wrote, and yet I did not get around to even playing the equally amazing sequel until 7 years later.

To be honest, I may have just played MOTHER 3 for the first time fairly recently, but I have seen a lets play of it before. Hell I was actually introduced to this series through the lets plays of Chuggaaconroy and NintendoCapriSun, which I just realized were posted over a decade ago. Hell now that I think about it, I think I first saw those LPs almost a decade ago. Read more

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES): Shoots for the Moon, Lands Among the Stars (Detailed Review)

Super Mario RPG | Bowyer

Super Mario RPG is a game that, when it was originally released, likely met with a lot of skepticism. Squaresoft’s RPGs are generally known as their huge sweeping tales that were not like anything that most gamers have seen at the time. Mario games, on the other hand, generally had no story beyond the typical excuse plot involving rescuing the princess. I can imagine the surprise when the two ended up going together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Since then, there have been two sub series that have been considered spiritual successors to Super Mario RPG; those being the Paper Mario series, and the Mario & Luigi series. Super Mario RPG was also one of the last games released for the Super Nintendo in 1996 and was the last game Squaresoft developed for a Nintendo system until Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in 2003. Super Mario RPG was the source of many technical achievements and innovations for the time of its release, but the real question is if it is as impressive today as it was in 1996. Read more

Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation (NES/SNES/GBC/Ios/3DS/PS4/Switch): A JRPG Legend (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest III | Box art

A lot of us who live outside of Japan don’t realize just how important the Dragon Quest series is to gaming. So many of us are bound to have at least one JRPG among our favorites of all time, yet ultimately aren’t familiar with the series that put this genre on the map. I’ve often thought of what it must be like to discuss the differences in gaming culture with a gamer from Japan, about the differences in popularity and what games that we never got in our respective countries.

Dragon Quest III is to the Dragon Quest series what Final Fantasy VII is to the Final Fantasy series. It’s the one that damn near every thinks of when they hear the name of the series. I finally got the chance to play through Dragon Quest III for myself a few months ago through its Switch port, and even thirty years after its release, it still kicks some serious ass! Read more

Bravely Default (3DS): Many Will Play, Few Will Finish (Detailed Review)

Bravely Default | battle

Ever since I knew of Bravely Default’s existence, I was hyped up for it. Just about everything I saw was a sign that pointed to this being an amazing game. First of all, it being a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was a good sign seeing as how I found that to be one of the more underrated games in the Final Fantasy series. 4 Heroes of Light was a game I greatly enjoyed just due to how it managed to easily capture the feelings of Final Fantasy I-III while improving on their mechanics and presentation. Many have criticized it for being unpolished or overly difficult, but that was not correct. The game, despite not being easy in any sense, was well balanced enough due to how much more accessible and convenient the game’s job system was than previous games like Final Fantasy V. Yet what was probably the most memorable aspect of 4 Heroes of Light was its simplicity. Read more

Lucah: Born of a Dream (PC/Switch): Obscured by Darkness (Detailed Review)

Lucah: Born of a Dream | Messiah

Just now, I needed to take a look at my previous review of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. I needed to do so because my feelings on Lucah: Born of a Dream are similar to that game, and I don’t want people to think I’ve gotten lazy (although with my less frequent updates, that ship has probably sailed). Also similarly to The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa, I did not care for this game.

Both are unique games that clearly had a strong ambition, and both are games that I can imagine a specific niche of people enjoying, but ultimately, both games disregard some of the most important rules of game design and create something that fails to engage overall. The difference between the two games is that they abandon different rules. Ringo Ishikawa abandoned the rules that games should be fun or accessible and tried to use its abysmal gameplay as a storytelling tool.

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Cosmic Star Heroine (PC/PS4/Vita/XONE/Switch): Mission Accomplished (Detailed Review)

Cosmic Star Heroine | Silver Dragon

Without a doubt, my favorite game genre has to be the JRPG. Games of this genre tend to have just the right balance between familiar and new. They are wide and expansive yet they aren’t overblown wannabe Hollywood movies like most AAA games are… for the most part.

One who has followed this blog for a while is likely familiar with my love of JRPGs, and likely knows that I took way too long to get around to reviewing this heavily JRPG influenced game. This game was requested as a review by Ryumaou Juno, a former patron of mine and still an occasional reader as far as I know. My apologies for taking so long to get to this one, my unreliability with getting requested reviews out quickly is precisely why I added much more stricter criteria for them. But hey, my incessant procrastination meant that I could have this the 150th game review to be put up on this site… unfortunately I didn’t because I had to put my Eryi’s Action review up. Read more